Assoc. News Editor
The anchor of democracy has landed in Millersville with two of the movements’ quintessential pioneers speaking at the university in one week. The first speaker, Joan Mandle, the executive director of Democracy Matters, had dinner with members of the MU branch of Democracy Matters, followed by a facilitated discussion in Stayer Hall on April 18th. The second speaker, Dr. Judith Browne Dianis, co-director of the Advocacy Advancement Project, presented the 2013 spring Harriet W. Kenderline Lecture “Democracy: We Have to Fix It” on April 24th in Myers Auditorium, McComsey Hall. The lecture was sponsored by the League of Women Voters of Lancaster County.
In attendance were students, members from the League of Women Voters of Lancaster County, newly appointed Dean of Humanity and Social Sciences Dr. Diane Umble, and President Anderson accompanied by his wife, Vivien. One student in attendance, Sabrina Hawke, Public Relations Major, attended the lecture despite having no recollection of the speaker. “ I don’t know anything about the speaker, but I came because in my speech professor is offering extra credit for attending,” said Hawke.
At 7:00p.m, Dr. Umble thanked everyone for coming and introduced Dr. Susan Leinberger, the president of the League of Women Voters of Lancaster County. Dr. Leniberger, after enumerating the many parallels between the speaker’s message and her organizations mission, named Dr. Dianis recipient of the Women Who Make Democracy Work Award. “My first time at Millersville has been a great experience,” said Dr. Dianis. “I want to thank the students in all the classes I attended today. I can see that you are committed to education and I can see myself in you.” The Women Who Make Democracy Work Award is presented to any woman who has contributed to the community in a significant and meaningful way.
During her speech, Dr. Dianis showed two short videos, which can also be seen on the Advocacy Advancement website, that showed how the voting process is becoming more difficult for the average American. One video featured Betty, an elderly woman from Wisconsin, who had faithfully voted in every presidential election since 1956. The state passed a law that required eligible voters to obtain their original voter registration form, a task which proved almost impossible for Betty. As her speech progressed, Dr. Dianis discussed some of the issues with voting in Pennsylvania. “Even though PA has no evidence of voter fraud, the state has pushed for everyone to obtain a photo identification card to be eligible to vote.” This stipulation, Dianis revealed, is not easily obtainable because many eligible voters don’t have access to facilities that issue photo identification cards. Immediately following her lecture, the floor was opened for a question and answer session.
“I love the idea of a constitutional amendment to procure complete voter rights, but how will we ever pass such an amendment?” asked President Anderson. “We must plant the seeds of democracy,” answered Dianis, “by going on the offense now we can make securing an amendment a long term goal.” As the question and answer session was winding down, Dr. Anderson said, “I’m encouraged that there is such a strong speaker in the country fighting for citizens who have the right to vote.” Dr. Anderson was pleased to see such a high caliber speaker relaying her democracy message to students at Millersville.